Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pork & Green Chile Stew


Pork & Green Chile Stew
(6-8 servings)

 
Ingredients:

¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 lb. Boneless Pork Shoulder, trimmed & cut into ¾ inch cubes
as needed Salt & Black Pepper
1 large Vidalia (sweet) Onion, quartered lengthwise & thinly sliced crosswise
1 lb. Mild Green Chiles (Poblanos/Ahaheims), cut lengthwise, cored & thinly sliced
3 medium Serrano Chiles, halved, seeded & thinly sliced (see note)
6 cloves Fresh Garlic, thinly sliced
2 cups Chicken Broth
¼ cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped (more for garnish)
1-2 medium Fresh Limes, cut into wedges
3 -4 cups Cooked Rice (optional) to serve over

Directions:

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil until almost smoking.  Season pork with salt and pepper and add to the pan.  Cook pork over high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned (about 5 minutes).  Add onion, green chiles, serrano chiles and garlic.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, over high heat until vegetables have softened (about 5 minutes).  Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Partially cover and simmer stew over moderately low heat until pork is tender and broth is reduced by half (about 20 minutes).  Stir in the cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with more cilantro and serve with lime wedges and rice (if using).

Note:               Stew can be made ahead of time (up to
                        3 days) and then warmed ready needed.

Note:               You can adjust the heat level by increasing or decreasing the amount of serrano chiles or using another types of chile pepper.  You can also increase heat by leaving the seeds in while you process the chiles.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wings wiht Cherry BBQ Glaze


Wings with Cherry BBQ Glaze
(4-8 servings)

 
Ingredients:

3½ lb. Chicken Wings, tips discarded & wings split
2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
½ medium Vidalia (sweet) Onion, finely chopped
1 or 2 medium Jalapeno Peppers, seeded & minced (see note)
1/3 cup Fresh Lime Juice
to taste Salt & Black Pepper

Directions:

Prepare wings and set aside.  In a medium sauce pan, melt butter.  Add the chopped onions and cook over medium heat, stir occasionally, until onion is softened and lightly browned (about 5 minutes).  Add ¾ of minced chile pepper and cook 1 minute, jut until softened.  Scape mixture into a blender, add cherry preserves, lime juice and puree until smooth.  Return the cherry mixture to sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Stir in remaining chile pepper and season with salt and black pepper to taste.  Season wings with salt and black pepper and grill over high heat.  Turn wings occasionally and cook to lightly charred and crispy state (about 20 minutes).  Transfer wings to a large bowl and toss with 1/3 of cherry glaze.  Return wings to the grill and cook until sticky and caramelized (about 2 minutes).  Return wings to bowl and toss with another third of glaze, transfer to a serving dish with remaining glaze served on the side.

Note:               You can use different chiles/peppers if you desire.  Habanero or Serrano chiles work here depending on wanted heat level.  You can also decrease or increase the amount used to adjust the spiciness of sauce.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Are You Ready to Tailgate?

For those of you that don't know, I write a monthly food article in a weekly newspaper as well as this blog.  Below is the article from the month of August.  Since most of you don't see those articles, I thought it would be good to share this one on tailgating.

I love August because it means the start of “Football Season” and the anticipation of another great year for the home team.  Of course that means it’s time to start planning those “Tailgate” parties before the game.
 
I wrote a little about tailgate planning in this column back in September of 2012.  Back then I talked about getting your tailgate team together, knowing who was to do what, reviewing how the tailgating went during the season and practicing your recipes in the off season to be ready.

This time let’s talk about all the “Stuff” we need to bring with us other than the food.  I suggest going out and getting some large plastic containers to hold the items you will always be bringing to your tailgate function.  I’d get a few.

First, let’s have one for general needs.  These items would include a first aid kit, sunscreen, bug spray/candles, flashlights or lanterns and batteries.  Maybe rain ponchos or umbrellas.  When it is cold, hand warmers, portable heaters, blankets, extra stocking-hats and gloves.  I’m sure someone attending will forget one or more of these items.

Second, how about clean-up?  You’ll want items such as large trash bags (work for ponchos too), washcloths, towels, paper towels, Plastic or rubber gloves, disinfectant/sanitizer items including hand wipes because people will eat with their hands.  Something else you should bring is zip-lock bags or plastic containers for leftover food.  Or maybe you want to send some food home with others.

Third, keep all your cooking items together.  Charcoal, lighter (fluid, matches, lighter stick), aluminum foil, grill brushes, spatulas, grill tongs, meat-basting brushes and meat thermometers.  Some of these I’d have two on hand.  What if something breaks?  Which remains me, don’t forget to bring some duct tape.  Hot pads or grill gloves as well as a can/bottle opener would be good to have in this group. Oh I almost forgot, tablecloths are a definite need item.

Lastly, you’ll need to have plates, glasses, cutlery and napkins for those eating.  Disposable or plastic reusable is your call.  Team colors and/or logos would make it even better.  You might also want to bring pitchers for drinks, serving platters for food and serving utensils.  Those disposable metal pans are great for serving food.

I would have all these items stocked, separated and packed for your tailgate season.  That means they should be separate from these type of items you will be using around the house.  You know, this setup works well for picnics during that season too.

I hope my newspaper article helps you get ready for some good times.  I'm including recipes for "Wings with Cherry BBQ Sauce" and a "Pork & Green Chile Stew" that you might want to try at one of your tailgates.  "Happy Cooking" and enjoy.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Spicy Guacamole


Spicy Guacamole
(6-8 servings)

 
Ingredients:

4 medium Roma Tomatoes
4 medium ripe Avocados
1 medium Fresh Lime, juiced
½ small White Onion, finely chopped
2 cloves Fresh Garlic, crushed
1 small bunch Fresh Cilantro, chopped
3 medium Red Fresno Chiles, seeded & finely chopped
as needed Tortilla Chips

Directions:

Cut a cross in the bottom of each tomato.  Place the tomatoes in a heatproof bowl and pour in boiling water to cover.  Leave tomatoes in the hot water for 3 minutes, lift them out with a slotted spoon and into a bowl of ice water.  Drain and peel skins off the tomatoes.  Slice in half and remove seeds with a teaspoon.  Roughly chop tomatoes and set aside.  Cut avocados in half, remove pits, and scoop out the pulp into a bowl mashing using a fork (see note).  Stir in the lime juice with the avocado before adding the onion, garlic, cilantro and chiles.  Once all these ingredients are well mixed, add the tomatoes and gently combine.  Serve immediately (see note) with tortilla chips.

Note:               It is best to make guacamole in a “Mortar & Pestle” or “Molcajete & Tejolote” as it is called in Mexico.  That is how guacamole is made in Mexico.  If you don’t have one, then use what you have available.

Note:               Avocado pulp turns black when exposed to the air.  Lime or lemon juice help to slow this process.  You still need to cover tightly to prevent.  See blog for August 19, 2014 for more information.

Note:               If you can’t find “Red Fresno Chiles” to use in this recipe, jalapeno or serrano chiles will work just as well.

Ideas for Future Efforts
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Avocado Soup


Avocado Soup
(4 servings)

 
Ingredients:

2 large ripe Avocados
1¼ cups Crème Fraiche
4 cups Chicken Stock
1 tsp. Salt
1 medium Fresh Lime, juice only half of it
1 small bunch Fresh Cilantro, chopped
½ tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Directions:

Cut the avocados in half and remove pits.  Scoop out pulp with a spoon and place in a food processor.  Add 4 tbsp. of crème fraiche and process until smooth.  In a large sauce pan over medium heat, warm chicken stock until hot but not bubbling.  Stir in the remaining crème fraiche and salt.  Add the lime juice to the avocado mixture and process briefly to mix.  Then gradually stir into the stock mixture.  Heat gently and do not let mixture approach boiling.  Pour soup into bowls and top with the chopped cilantro and pepper.  Serve immediately.

Note:               Because this soup contains avocados, it may discolor if left to stand.  So make it just before serving.

Note:               For an added left, use a little more lime juice just before putting into bowls.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Part 7 Mexican (Avocados) Cuisine

"Avocados" are used all over the world.  However, I believe that when you mention the name most people think of "Mexican Cuisine."  Mexico is in fact the largest producer of avocados in the world.  No other country is even close to them in production.

Most everyone, also, first thinks of "Guacamole" when you mention the word avocado.  But Mexican cuisine uses the avocado for more than just this one dish.  In fact, they not only use the avocado's pulp but it's leaves too.  They use the leaves both fresh and dried in dishes.  In the USA, the leaves are found in Mexican grocery stores or specialty stores.  The dry leaves are used similar to a bay leaf.

The avocado is used in soups, salads, sauces, marinades, stews, tortas (Mexican sandwiches) and with seafood.  There are several types of avocados but the two most common would be the "Fuerte" (Original Mexican avocado) and "Haas" (common to the USA & Mexico).

The Fuerte has a glossy green smooth skin with yellowish-green pulp.  The Haas has dark green skin that turns black as it ripens.  It too has the yellowish-green pulp to eat.

When buying avocados, look for ones that have a little give when you press the top end of the fruit.  If you have ones that are not ripe yet, leave on a counter for a couple of days.  As soon as the avocado is ripe, refrigerate it.  This will help them to last a little longer.  As they over-ripen the pulp will start to turn black.  This also happens if they get bruised.  Exposing the pulp to air will also cause it to turn black.

To help keep this from happening, cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Another method to help keep the pulp from blackening is to cover it with water.  An example would be guacamole.  After you finish making it, put it in a sealable container and cover with a 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water.  Use an small measuring cup and slowly pour the water over the guacamole (or whatever you have used the pulp for) trying not to disturb it.

There are also several different ways to remove the avocado pulp from it's shell.

First there is the cutting it in half method.

To do this, cut the avocado in half from top to bottom.  Take a half in each hand and turn in opposite directions to separate.  The pit will usually stay in one half.  Carefully put the knife blade into the pit and turn it while holding the avocado half in the other hand.  The pit should release from avocado and remain stuck to the knife.  Carefully remove from the knife.

This works well for scooping a half of avocado pulp out in one piece.  You do this by just using a tablespoon and slipping between the shell and the pulp.  Then working your way around the entire inside.

It also works well for cubing or dicing the avocado pulp.  In this case, hold a half in the palm of your hand and use a pairing knife to run slices through the pulp without going through the skin.  Then repeat making slices diagonally across your first ones.  You will want to keep the distance between the slices equal so you have uniform pieces.  Then use a tablespoon to scoop them out.  You could try peeling the skin off too.

Second is the quartering method.

You start just like above cutting it in half.  Then you turn it and repeat the cut giving you 4 equal quarters of avocado.  They will usually start falling apart with the pit dropping out.  Once you have the 4-quarters, it is easy to peel the skin from the pulp.  Just start a the tip and peel back the skin.  You may need to use your fingers to get between the skin and pulp.  Practice makes it easier as with any new thing you try.

These quarters without the skin can than be mashed, chopped up, sliced or used in food processors for desired needs.  It is another way to make avocado use easy.

I already have a couple of guacamole recipes on the blog.  My favorite is Guacamole (Villa del Arco) It is an easy mild guacamole to which you could add heat if desired.  This week on Thursday, I have a "Spicy Guacamole" recipe for you to try.  My favorite doesn't have tomatoes or chiles in it.  This new one has both.  Tomorrow is a recipe for "Avocado Soup" and it is easy and tasty.  Again it doesn't have heat to it but could if you wanted.

So always I hope this has been helpful to you and you have learned something new about avocados.  Enjoy this week's recipes and until next week "Happy Cooking."

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pimento & Olive Deviled Eggs


Pimento & Olive Deviled Eggs
(16 servings)

 
Ingredients:

8 large Fresh Eggs
2 whole Pimentos (from jar or can)
8 large Pitted Green Olives
5 tbsp. Mayonnaise
8 drops Tabasco
pinch Cayenne Pepper (amount to your taste)
to taste Salt & Black Pepper
½ tsp. Paprika, for dusting eggs

Directions:

Place eggs in a medium sauce pan and cover with cold water by 1 inch.  With sauce pan on stove, bring to a slow boil over medium-high heat.  Once at a boil lower heat to keep a slow boil and continue for 3 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and let eggs rest in the hot water for 9 minutes.  Carefully drain hot water and add back cold water to pan along with some ice cubes and let sit for 12 minutes.  Drain water, get one egg, crack shell and remove under slow running cold water.  Repeat process with each egg.  Now cut each egg in half lengthwise and remove yolks to a nylon strainer over a medium sized bowl.  Push yolks through strainer into bowl.  Then mash with a fork.  Drain pimentos on paper towels, chop finely and add to bowl.  Leave 16 little strips to garnish finished eggs.  Finely chop olives leaving 16 slices to garnish finished eggs.  Add the mayonnaise and mix well.  Now add tabasco and cayenne.  Salt and pepper to taste.  You can now pipe the mixture into the eggs or spoon it in.  Once all the eggs are filled place on a serving dish and top each with pimento and olive pieces saved for garnish.  Now dust each egg with a little paprika and serve.

Note:               Once done, eggs can be carefully covered
                        and refrigerated until needed.

Note:               There are many different instructions for cooking boiled eggs.  I find this one the best for me.  Also, you want to use older eggs for boiling as they peel easier than fresh ones.

Ideas for Future Efforts
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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Green (Avocado) Deviled Eggs


Green (Avocado) Deviled Eggs
(12 servings)

 
Ingredients:

6 large Fresh Eggs
1 large Avocado, ripe
1 tbsp. Fresh Lime Juice
1 tbsp. White Onion, very finely minced
2 cloves Fresh Garlic, very finely minced
1 tbsp. Fresh Cilantro, fine chop
½ tbsp. Ancho Chile Powder (optional) or to taste
as needed Smoked Paprika for dusting finished product

Directions:

Place eggs in a medium sauce pan and cover with cold water by 1 inch.  With sauce pan on stove, bring to a slow boil over medium-high heat.  Once at a boil lower heat to keep a slow boil and continue for 3 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and let eggs rest in the hot water for 9 minutes.  Carefully drain hot water and add back cold water to pan along with some ice cubes and let sit for 12 minutes.  Drain water, get one egg, crack shell and remove under slow running cold water.  Repeat process with each egg.  Now cut each egg in half lengthwise and remove yolks to a nylon strainer over a medium sized bowl.  Push yolks through strainer into bowl.  Pit and peel avocado and scoop into bowl with eggs.  Then mash with a fork.  Next add the lime juice, onion, garlic, cilantro and chile powder (if using) and combine well.  You can now pipe the mixture into the eggs or spoon it in.  Dust each egg with the smoked paprika and chill until time to serve.

Note:               Some changes you might make if needed include onion powder to the real onion, different chile powders for both in mixture and/or for dusting eggs.  Use your imagination.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What are Deviled Eggs?

"Deviled Eggs" are very popular in the USA and actually around the world too.  What are they and where did they begin?

A "Deviled Egg" is a hard boiled egg that has been cut in half (lengthwise mostly) and filled with a mixture usually containing the egg yolk combined with other ingredients.  Mayonnaise and mustard are the two most common ingredients used.  But the filling possibilities are unlimited because of everyone's varied pallet.

The origin of "Deviled Eggs" can be traced back  to Roman times.  You can find reference to them in the early AD.  Over the years they have been called many names (depends on the country you are in).  In the UK they are called "Devilled Eggs" for example.

In some parts of the South and Midwest in the USA, they are referred to as "Stuffed Eggs", "Salad Eggs", "Dressed Eggs" or even "Angel Eggs."  This is mostly to do with them being served at church functions.  The word "Deviled" doesn't go over so well in these settings.

The name "Deviled Eggs" referred to the dish being spicy.  Mostly because of the use of mustard and pepper as ingredients in the mixture.  They don't have to be spicy but most recipes have some ingredient in them to give it a little kick.

I have two recipes this week for "Deviled Eggs" that are not your traditional types.  The first is "Green (Avocado) Deviled Eggs" and is along the line of guacamole for a filling.  That's tomorrow and then on Thursday, I have "Pimento & Olive Deviled Eggs" for you to try.

Both recipes tells you how to boil eggs for the best results.  Now there are many different recipes out there for making hard boiled eggs.  I believe they all work but I like the one I use best.  The yolks of these boiled eggs will last 4 to 5 days before starting to turn green on the edges.  These is nothing wrong with them when this happens but it is best to use them when they are their freshest.

It also makes it easier to peel hard boiled eggs if you boil older eggs.  The fresh ones are a little harder to peel.  Try and buy them about a week before you are going to boil them.

Enjoy trying these two "Deviled Eggs" recipes and "Happy Cooking" until next week.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Cilantro-Lime Butter


Cilantro-Lime Butter
(8 servings)


Ingredients:

16 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, room temperature
¼ cup Fresh Cilantro, rough chop
1 clove Fresh Garlic, peeled & rough chop
1 small Shallot, rough chop
1 medium Fresh Lime, zested & juiced
to taste Salt & Black Pepper (optional)

Directions:

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse 5 times for 5 seconds each.  Scrape sides as needed between pulses.  Then process for 1 minute to fully combine.  Use for current meal or freeze for future use.  To freeze, place half of the butter in a line down the middle of plastic wrap.  Bring over the butter one side of the plastic wrap and form into a log.  Roll up completely in the plastic wrap and then twist the ends to finish.  Repeat process with the second half of the butter.  Label and store in freezer until needed.

Note:               If you like a little heat, add a jalapeno or serrano chile to process.  Depend on heat level, you can remove or leave the seeds of the chile.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Herbed Steak Butter


Herbed Steak Butter
(4 servings)

 
Ingredients:

8 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, room temperature
2 tbsp. Fresh Basil, rough chop
1 tbsp. Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, rough chop
4 cloves Fresh Garlic, peeled & rough chop

Directions:

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse 5 times for 5 seconds each.  Scrape sides as needed between pulses.  Then process for 1 minute to fully combine.  Use for current meal or freeze for future use.  To freeze, place butter in a line down the middle of plastic wrap.  Bring over the butter one side of the plastic wrap and form into a log.  Roll up completely in the plastic wrap and then twist the ends to finish.  Label and store in freezer until needed.

Note:               Double or triple the recipe and place in freezer.  Larger batches work better in a food processor.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Butter Compounds for Grilled Meats & More.

Shopping for Ingredients
My blog assistant was busy this week getting supplies so we could play with our compound butter recipes.  I had trouble keeping up with her in the store.  But she keeps me young (and tired).

What are "Compound Butters" and how do you use them?  That might be the first question many of you reading the blog today.  Not everyone is familiar with compound butters.  So let's start the discussion on what it is and how to use them.

"Compound Butters" are mixtures of butter and supplementary ingredients.  Primarily, they are used to enhance flavor in various dishes, in a fashion similar to a sauce.  These butters can be melted on top of meats and vegetables, used as a spread or used to finish various sauces.  This is some of what Wikipedia had to say on the subject.

Alright, so what does that mean?  It means that compound butters are very tasty and help create an enhanced satisfaction to a dish.  On top of that, they are easy to make and use.

There are two types of compound butters.  You can make "Sweet" or "Savory" butters.

The sweet butters will have additional ingredients such as honey, maple syrup and cinnamon to name a few.  These are great on pancakes, waffles, muffins, biscuits or toast.  When making these compound butters remember to start with 1 to1 ratios with ingredients like honey.  Something like cinnamon, you want to start with a teaspoon to a half cup of butter.  Then make adjustments based on your own flavor profile.

Savory butters give you many more options than the sweet ones.  Just about any fresh or dry herb can work as well as juices such as lemon and lime.  Depending on the ingredients used, these butters really can enhance a meat or vegetable dish.

To make compound butters, one can mix by hand, use a food processor or even a electric hand or table mixer.  Which way is best depends somewhat on the amount being made.  I prefer the food processor for most.  My reason for this is you don't have to process the ingredients as much because the food processor will do it for you.  So rough chop in good enough for it.

If you are mixing by hand or using an electric mixer, the ingredients need to be prep to the size desired for the outcome.  Sometimes the ingredients are already at the finished size.  When I make a compound butter for baked potatoes, I use the electric mixer because the additional ingredients are already processed.  Here I add bacon bits, shredded cheese, sour cream and a few seasonings to the butter.  The electric mixer not only mixes the compound butter together but adds volume because it adds air to the butter mixture.  This is similar to what happens with ice cream.  It makes for a lighter fluffier product.

To make a compound butter, follow one of the processes mentioned above and then place about a half cup of mixture on plastic wrap to make into a log.  You will want to refrigerate or freeze to hard up the butter.  Then just slice pieces to place on top of a steak or mashed potatoes for example.  Wrap tightly, label with type of butter and date processed if freezing for later use.  They should keep for 1 to 2 months in the freezer.

I have two recipes this week for you to try.  But it is easy enough to make up your own.  Give one of these a try or be creative and come up with your own signature compound butter.  Tomorrow's recipe is "Herbed Steak Butter" and then "Cilantro-Lime Butter" on Thursday.  I hope you enjoy and "Happy Cooking" until next week.